Chip Kelly and his football coaches have a difficult assignment when they are recruiting high schoolers to play college football, because the bodies of the young men they are watching are still growing and changing. They have to look at the child and project what sort of young man he will grow up to be. For these reasons, they pay careful attention to three things: bones, brains, and bravado. Do they have the frame to grow big and strong enough to play at the next level? Are they smart enough to learn much more complex systems, while also managing the work load of being a student? Do they have the desire to win, even if it requires the personal sacrifice (deferred gratification) that training and studying requires?
EMX PROVIDES THE FORM FOR LANE COUNTY TO FULFILL ITS POTENTIAL. EMX LINES ARE OUR BONES.
Bus Rapid Transit is a new idea. Or it WAS a new idea, when Rob Bennett and the LTD board started looking at this in 1995. Economists have known for a long time that fixed rail transit drives development investment. It makes sense. If a train is located outside your door, investors guess it will stay there for a long time, so they are willing to make long-term investments that depend on whatever those tracks are delivering. Economists see no similar investment patterns around bus lines, presumably because busses are less permanent. But the Clinton administration started a program to explore whether you could combine the economy of rubber-tired transportation with the permanence of rail lines, and Bus Rapid Transit was born.
EUGENE-SPRINGFIELD WAS THE SMALLEST MARKET CHOSEN FOR THE ORIGINAL BRT STUDY AND HAS BECOME ONE OF THE MOST SUCCESSFUL.
Local leaders got fully behind the concept of Bus Rapid Transit early and it has paid off handsomely. We have competed for federal funding against communities ten times our size and prevailed. As a middle market, federal officials and other small cities have watched us very closely, because smaller markets typically cannot afford light rail, but if a BRT system can deliver many of the same economic benefits for a fraction of the cost, that’s a huge discovery for urban planning and economic development. All eyes are on Eugene and Springfield. LTD staff hosts emissaries from other cities every month, who want to learn how we do what we’ve done.
EMX REPRESENTS AN URBAN TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM THAT WILL SERVE US RELIABLY FOR HALF A CENTURY OR MORE.
It’s essential that we think long-term, just like Chip Kelly thinks about high school sophomores. As much as those boys have changed since 4th grade — that’s how much they will change again by the time they graduate from college. EmX was envisioned for this area almost 20 years ago, so we must be thinking about how it will serve us 20 years into the future and well beyond.
We all know that Oregon is unique and uniquely wonderful because our Urban Growth Boundaries require us to be more thoughtful about the future than communities in many other states. We have to think ahead about where we’re going to put people (to live or to work) and how we’re going to get them from one place to another. Eugene has determined that it wants to make room for the new families and new jobs without eating up too much of the farmland that surrounds it. Envision Eugene accomplishes this by allowing the cities transit corridors to develop more intensively. This strategy puts a whole new emphasis on our transportation strategies.
A ROBUST TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM LIKE EMX ALLOWS US TO GROW EFFICIENTLY, KEEPING FARMLAND UNTOUCHED.
We love being able to bicycle to farms or hiking trails. It’s part of why we love living here. As more people discover what we already know, we have to get more inventive about making room for the newcomers. Otherwise, we get sprawl.
THE SINGLE BEST THING WE CAN DO TO CREATE JOBS IS CONTINUE BUILDING EMX LINES.
Tim Duy and other Oregon economists agree. Transportation infrastructure investment creates jobs, and lots of them. But a reliable and long-term transportation system creates something even more important — certainty. When government officials show they are thinking long-term, private investors follow with a similar mindset. Long-term investments create more jobs and good jobs, the ones that give our citizens the certainty they need to buy a home, start a family, and get involved in civic life. We know we’re going to attract more people to live here, just because of our climate and our vibe. So who are the people we want to attract? Long-term thinkers, life-long learners, people who will contribute to our community life together.
EMX GIVES US ACCESS TO EVERYTHING — “A GREAT CITY FOR THE ARTS & OUTDOORS!”
We know we have it good, and we want to keep it good. EmX requires that development be focused and intentional. It protects the farms nearby and what we call our “quality of life” and it promises to continue doing it for generations to come.
We’re lucky to live in the Willamette Valley and in Oregon, but we can’t not think also about the planet. We know that gasses are slowly strangling us, so finding solutions that don’t curtail our freedoms is essential. We may turn out to be the only three generations of humanity who assumed that using a personal vehicle to get everywhere we want to go is the easiest or simplest choice. Or maybe not. Either way, it’s never a bad thing to give ourselves more choices.
EMX WILL REDUCE OUR DEPENDENCE ON FOSSIL FUELS WITHOUT REQUIRING LIFESTYLE CHANGES FROM EVERYONE.
If we want to preserve our freedom of choice, we must put alternatives in place before they become necessities. Some of us will learn to adapt more quickly than others. Some have transportation patterns that fit more easily into a mass transit solution than others. If you drive your car everywhere, you’ll also benefit from a robust system, because every rider of EmX is a potential car driver you don’t have to share the road with.
EMX WILL REDUCE CONGESTION AND SPEED COMMUTE TIMES.
We don’t have traffic issues in Eugene and Springfield, but we can learn from every other place that does. The single lesson learned everywhere is this: If you wait until you have congestion, it’s too late to implement most solutions. The key to solving congestion problems is to get ahead of the trend and solve the problem before it appears. EmX is forward-looking, planning that keeps what we have far into the future.
EMX WILL SAVE US MONEY.
Every minute you spend commuting is a minute you could have spent working or enjoying your life. Lost productivity from travel times is a larger drag on our economy than illness or any other factor. EmX also represents significant cost savings for the transportation system itself. Larger busses move more people for less cost. It’s the economics of Bus Rapid Transit that motivates federal officials to continue funding the experiment. If it continues to focus private development investment, while moving more people at a lower cost — isn’t that exactly what we’re asking for our government to pursue?
Forms, Farms, Fumes
Bottom line, this system is about tomorrow. What will our children need? What will help the planet breathe? What will welcome others to this wonderful place we call home? How do we prepare for the best future we can imagine?
EMX POINTS THE WAY TO A FUTURE THAT BETTERS OUR FORMS, PROTECTS OUR FARMS, AND LESSENS OUR FUMES.